Boeing shares slip after first 'underperform' rating since 2009

NEW YORK Tue Sep 2, 2014 11:39am EDT

The Boeing logo is seen at their headquarters in Chicago, April 24, 2013.  REUTERS/Jim Young

The Boeing logo is seen at their headquarters in Chicago, April 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Boeing Co (BA.N) shares slipped 1.3 percent on Tuesday after a pair of downgrades from highly ranked analysts, including one who cut the stock outlook to "underperform."

The underperform rating by The Buckingham Research Group, a New York-based broker-dealer, marked the first such rating for Boeing's stock since 2009, according to data by Thomson Reuters. In 2009, Boeing was suffering from delays in bringing its 787 Dreamliner to market.

Buckingham also cut its price target for Boeing shares to $101, well below the current price of over $125. The shares were down 1.3 percent in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Analyst Richard Safran, ranked third among 23 Boeing analysts for estimate accuracy and recommendation performance, wasn't immediately available for comment. In February, he cut his Boeing price target to $132 from $142, saying investor expectations were "being set too high."

Boeing shares rallied 80 percent in 2013, but have fallen about 8 percent this year as investors reassessed the large order book and rising output of Boeing and rival Airbus Group NV (AIR.PA), with many concluding that most of the good news was already priced into the stock.

Boeing's share price received a downgrade on Tuesday from RBC Capital Markets, which cut its target price for the stock to $134 from $145. RBC also cut the price target for Airbus to 51 euros from 59 euros.

Investor sentiment toward Airbus and Boeing "is likely to remain muted, as there is concern over the visual headwind of declining orders, and increased cancellations, despite the record backlogs," RBC analyst Robert Stallard wrote in a note that included upgrades to several suppliers and defense companies, including Spirit Aerosystems Holdings Inc (SPR.N), Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N).

The target price for Boeing has dipped to $152.86 among analyst tracked by Thomson Reuters, down from $154.14 a month ago.

But not all investors were deterred by the downgrades on Tuesday.

"While the short-term stock performance has certainly not been phenomenal, in the context of longer-term performance we're very comfortable," said Oliver Pursche, president of Gary Goldberg & Company, a money management firm in Suffern, New York, with about $1 million invested in Boeing.

Pursche said his company had been adding to its position this year.

Indeed, most analysts continue to rate Boeing stock a "buy" or "strong buy" though the sentiment has been shifting. Three months ago, 20 analysts rated the stock in one of those categories. Now, 18 do. And the number rating it a "hold" has climbed to eight from six over the same period.

Buckingham's "underperform" rating is the firm's lowest, making it equivalent to a "strong sell" when compared with others on Thomson Reuters. As of Tuesday, Buckingham was the only firm rating Boeing shares that low.

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by David Gregorio)

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